Living far away from aging family members can make the need for help at home easier to overlook. In fact, many adult children of older parents never even realize that Dad and Mom need assistance until they return home to visit or spend extended time together over the holiday season. If you’re a family caregiver who lives in a distant location from your senior loved ones, it becomes that much more necessary to have a plan in place for crises and caring for parents at a distance.
The home care specialists at Heaven at Home Senior Care have put together these helpful ideas to assist in caring for parents from a distance.
Plan in Advance
When you are unable to just drive across town to assist, it’s vital to have family talks about the “what ifs” that might occur with your loved ones, like:
- Living situation wishes dependent on severity and who is involved – run through some scenarios for discussion; for example, a fractured knee necessitating a rehab stay.
- How will you determine when “it’s time” to make a change? What would this look like?
- Finance considerations in caregiving, such as how much work can family members afford to miss? What types of financial assistance might be available?
- Advance directives for decision-making: verify all is in order and keep a copy for yourself.
Assess Along the Way
When you can’t see your older parents every day, it can be tempting to want to ignore the often uncomfortable business of evaluating health and wellbeing in favor of simply enjoying each other’s company, but it’s necessary to regularly think about and assess how your senior parents are really doing.
- Identify the registered nurse working with your loved ones’ health care provider and stay in communication with that person.
- Be sure there is a HIPAA Release of Information Form on file at all of your parents’ physicians’ offices so you can talk openly with the medical professionals, and retain one for yourself.
- Have frequent phone calls with your aging parents to check in and help them resolve any concerns.
- Make a list of any informal local resources: neighbors, church friends, any other family members who can be part of your senior parents’ network of support. Keep in contact with that network on a regular basis and make sure they know how to reach you and that you welcome their calls.
Identify When to Travel and When to Stay Home
Situations are likely to happen, perhaps at a moment’s notice. You cannot travel for every issue, so make a decision beforehand when you will travel and when you will need to utilize other resources to assist.
- Ask if this is a genuine medical or care emergency. As a part (not all) of your decision-making, ask the doctor, social worker, or nurse for more detailed information and his/her advice on whether you should travel in.
- Can someone else locally manage the issue at hand or eyeball the scenario for you?
- It’s fine to go there just to put your mind at ease as well. If staying home and being concerned is going to be less productive for you, then maybe you should go.
Consider Partnering with Heaven at Home Senior Care
In-home aging care can not only provide exceptional care for seniors, it can also offer long-distance family members a greater sense of peace and connection. At Heaven at Home Senior Care, our professional care staff have specialized training and can:
- Assess the circumstances
- Identify problems, gaps, strengths and resources
- Track health, activity, nutrition, etc.
- Screen and coordinate other services and support
- Coordinate with financial, legal and medical providers
- Communicate regularly with family members
- And much more